Looking Beyond the Spec Sheet

Tyler Whitman / 1.2.2019

Logistics Win Wars

There is a saying that I recently learned. “Amateurs study tactics while masters study logistics.” The first thing that I thought was relating it to war. Tactics win battles; logistics win wars. A general (and any good chess player) must understand that necessary losses are made to strategically win a war. Logistics are about looking at the whole picture. You could win many battles with your tactics, but if you are not able to secure your supply lines to your soldiers, they will starve, run out of ammunition, or be surrounded without support. How can you relate this to film and photography?

All’s Fair in War and Film

First, you need to rephrase the saying. “Amateurs study technology while masters study light.” The latest and greatest cameras and technology are great tools to have. These tools make work more efficient and give us a broader range of capabilities, but at the end of the day, it’s the knowledge that is essential. In today’s day and age, it seems that new models of technology keep coming at us in an endless tidal wave. Just bought the Super Phone 7? Guess what? They just announced the Super Phone 8. Sound familiar? In such a technology-driven industry it is easy to get sucked into the void of new camera releases and upcoming tech. You cannot knock companies for doing this, that’s capitalism. If people do not buy the company’s products the company goes out of business. This constant release of new gear from a broad range of companies can make it easy to doubt oneself after a purchase. “Should I have really gone with option A? What if I had gone with option B? Maybe I should have gone with option C?” In a way this slips us into a depression. A constant whirling of “what if” and “would have” “could have”. This is what distracts us from what is truly important. I have found myself in that mindstate a couple times. I think that it is important to remember a few things.

Remember Your Roots

The pursuit of gear is not storytelling; it is a distraction. Filmmakers and photographers alike pour over spec sheets questioning for days what would work best for them, and that’s just it. What works best for me may not work best for you. I think it is important to remember why you started. Why did you start taking pictures? Why did you start filming? What made you want to be a storyteller? Thoughts back to my roots help me remember the joy I have in telling stories. Who cares if your video is 4k or not? Who cares what lens you shot it on? None of that matters. If you gave Roger Deakins (Academy Award Winning DP for “Blade Runner 2049”) an iPhone, I think he would still be able to create artful visuals because “Amateurs study tactics while masters study logistics.”  The concept of how light hits a subject to display mood, meaning and tone are all logistics of good storytelling. So, get out there! Put in the hours! One of my favorite artists of all time said this: “I started painting as a hobby when I was little. I didn’t know I had any talent. I believe talent is just a pursued interest. Anybody can do what I do.” (Bob Ross)